How to Use Your DMS to Grow Your Monthly Giving Program

Monthly donors are a fundraiser’s dream. They provide reliable revenue, they’re relatively low maintenance and can have a lifetime value (LTV) of more than 3 times that of one-time donors. But it’s for these reasons that monthly donors can be easily overlooked by well-meaning but busy fundraisers. Lacking the proper retention strategies can cause many donors to take their monthly commitment elsewhere.  

If you work for an organization that wishes to raise more money from monthly donors, you can start by making it easy and straightforward for donors to make a monthly gift on your website. And add a ‘give monthly’ option to any appeal you send out.  

But if you’re already got those basics down and you’re ready to dedicate more time to building your monthly giving program, here are 5 ways your DMS can help you. It may be useful think of them as the 5 R’s or 5 Rules of Monthly Giving:  


When it comes to fundraising, it’s generally more difficult, time consuming and expensive to acquire new donors than to retain existing donors. This is doubly true when it comes to monthly donors. Therefore, the first rule of monthly giving is to retain your existing monthly donors.

If you’re just starting to build a monthly giving program, you may only have a handful of donors who give monthly. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less deserving of special attention. In fact, a smaller group of monthly donors will be more manageable when it comes to growing your relationship through timely administration and good donor stewardship.  

So where does your DMS come in? Your DMS will be instrumental in helping you identify who gives monthly. You may wish to assign your monthly donors a special tag when they become monthly donors and you will want to ensure their monthly donations are marked as recurring and/or fall under a monthly giving campaign or campaign group.  

Now that you’ve identified your existing group of monthly donors, do you have a process for regularly processing donations? Are you monitoring your monthly donations each month to ensure there are no missed payments? And if you notice a donor has missed a payment, are you contacting them to let them know?  

Monthly donors also require a consolidated tax receipt at the end of the year. Make sure you are communicating with your donors when they will be receiving their yearly tax receipt and ensure you are issuing these in a timely manner. Your donors should not have to worry about tracking down their receipts.  


Once you’ve segmented your monthly donors, you can send targeted communications directly through your DMS. In your communications, you should acknowledge their relationship to the organization defined by the monthly commitment. Create a communications schedule that includes sending your monthly donors regular organizational updates, stories about your beneficiaries and thank you letters. Your communications should serve the purpose of reminding monthly donors of their value to the organization and should emphasize that they are part of a special group.  

By sending your monthly donor communications directly through the DMS, you can check to see which donors have opened or engaged with your emails or if they may have missed them. These insights should be regularly monitored and may prompt you to take some additional actions. For example, if you notice a longstanding monthly donor has never opened an email from your organization, you may wish to pick up the phone to express your gratitude, so they don’t go unrewarded.  


When it comes to monthly donors, the value of stewardship cannot be overstated. Your DMS is an asset to helping you identify monthly giving milestones which you can use to recognize your monthly donors for their longstanding commitment to your organization.

Use the query function or reports in your DMS to filter your monthly donors by those who have contributed over $500, $1000 or $5000 in their total giving to the organization. Or identify donors who have been consecutively giving for more than 2, 3 or 5 years. These milestones can be used to start conversations with monthly donors you haven’t connected with recently or can be highlighted in your annual report or donor list.  


Now that you have identified your currently monthly donors, you can work on upgrading them. To determine which monthly donors may wish to increase their commitment, use your DMS to pull a list of monthly donors who have contributed monthly for at least a year. Once you have this list, you can begin your outreach.  

To identify potential new monthly donors, use your DMS to investigate key questions such as when was a donor’s last gift? Have they given more than once? How many years have they given annually? Have they recently engaged with your email communications?  

These metrics can help you identify which donors are most actively engaged with your organization, and most likely to make a monthly commitment. Once you have identified your most engaged donors, be sure to review the list to ensure you’re not soliciting any donors who have ‘do not solicit’ on their profile and avoid any potential major gift donors for whom you may have a different planned cultivation or solicitation strategy.  


The final step to growing your monthly giving program is to re-engage lapsed monthly donors. To identify those donors who used to give monthly but stopped their commitment, pull a query of donors with monthly gifts whose last monthly gift was in the previous fiscal or calendar year. This will enable you to identify donors who used to give monthly and from there you can work on a targeted appeal to reactivate their monthly giving.    

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